Ideology in the EU’s Second Chamber: A New Understanding of the Character and Impact of the Council on EU Policy Making
25 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014
This paper examines both the presence and the impact of ideology on the Council of the European Union. It argues that Member States within the Council should not be treated as unitary actors given that in fact, member states are represented by delegations of national ministers who often have very diverse ideological beliefs and preferences regarding EU integration. Through the analysis of an original database of all national ministers from all member states between 2000 and 2012 in conjunction with existing data on ideological and EU positions (Chapel Hill Expert Surveys) and the policy positions of EU actors, member states on a set of policy proposals as well as final outcomes (Decision Making in the European Union –DEU II data). This analysis demonstrates that there are statistically significant differences between the different Council formations and the median positions of the prime ministers of the member states supporting the need to disaggregate analyses of the Council and rejecting member states as unitary actors. Moreover, the research provides insights into the relative impact of prime ministers versus ministers on EU policy outcomes, as well as the role of the other branch of the EU legislative branch, the EP. While not conclusive, this research suggests that we need a more nuanced understanding of the Council to accurately evaluate the role of ideology in EU policy making and the impact of different national and EU level actors in the process.
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